Sunday, March 1, 2015

Jean Louis Théodore Géricault (Part two)

The romanticist-style artist Géricault was able to bond with the type of men he enjoyed painting: unpretentious masculine fellows from everyday life, which is probably why he was so successful in persuading these common gents to pose for him nude. The artist clearly had an appreciation for life and respected the actions required of brave men put into severe situations.  This was best highlighted in 1818, when Géricault began work on what was to become his largest and best known composition, the Raft of the Medusa. 
The subject of the painting was an actual event from 1816, which had captured the public's attention and gossip and disgust:  A raft with survivors from the sunken frigate Medusa was recovered after 12 days of unspeakable agony on the sea, with only 15 of the original 149 passengers originally on the raft still alive.  Those who survived endured starvation and dehydration and practiced cannibalism.  Blame was put on the incompetent captain who owed his job to his allegiance to the French monarchy.  Géricault captured the unequal struggle of man against nature, and sadly, of man against man.  There is no celebration of the nude male in this painting, where male nudity is used to show the pure exhaustion of the body in contrast to the strength of the spirit. 
The Getty Museum notes that "Géricault's fiery, daring personality and short life fit the mold of Romantic artists of his era and, along with his controversial paintings, profoundly influenced nineteenth-century art" and we agree.  The artist led a complicated life and there's much we don't know.  We do know that he sired a child which was the result of an affair with his young aunt (He fled Versailles when he discovered that she was pregnant).  He traveled to Florence, Rome, and Naples for several years and enthralled himself in Italian life.  The artist painted what he was interested in (which included a lot of handsome naked men, in deliberately placed poses which forces viewers of the paintings to admire raw male beauty and sexuality) and was one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement.  Géricault himself was considered to have been emotionally fragile, yet (or maybe because of his own situation was inspired to) painted a series capturing the haunting realist studies of asylum inmates.  In a relatively short lifetime this artist managed to accomplish much.  Most of his work is now in the Louvre.





Thursday, February 26, 2015

Theodore Gericault

The painting above is by French artisit Jean-Louis-Andre-Theodore Gericault (1791-1824 Paris).  It is titled Nude Warrior with a Spear, ca.1816, and currently resides at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.    You would not be the first person, if you noticed that its diameter around, its color in comparison to his skin, and way that the naked man grips his spear, are all very phallic.  This will not be a surprise to fans of the artist.  Throughout his career, Géricault's artwork celebrated the heroic male by recognizing that a man's power includes his sexuality.   Below is a self portrait.
Géricault's work is usually marked by a notable absence of adoring semi-nude women placed in the background, something that many artists included in order to tamper-down the homoerotic imagery that they were portraying within their art.    
Géricault had entered the army and served for a time in the garrison of Versailles, where it is believed he became infatuated with the soldiers and their brute masculine beauty and muscular frames.  He was also impressed with the strength and powerful beauty of military horses.  It was at the Versailles palace stables that he gained his knowledge of the anatomy and action of horses (and perhaps a few stablemen as well).  His art work often depicts soldiers and the tense, erotic charge of energy between them.

Géricault had poor health for about a year before he died in Paris at the age of thirty-two. He left all of his things to another artist, Eugène Delacroix, pictured below.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February Snapshots and (unrelated) Famous Reflections on Photographs Taken in Time

“What i like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
― Karl Lagerfeld
“A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you.”
― Brigitte Bardot
“I took some naked pictures the other day. I don’t feel shamed, but I do feel remorse over having to steal the whole camera to get the pictures.”
― Jarod Kintz

"The best images are the ones that retain their strength and impact over the years, regardless of the number of times they are viewed.”
--Anne Geddes

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Artist Sketchbook: Lord Iron

His work is best recognized from Handjobs magazine, a printed paper periodical that developed a very devoted following around the world.   Lord Iron often captured not only the emotional bonding between men (of legal adult age, but often having an older Daddy-type in the story), but his work also celebrated what happened when two men enjoyed the pleasures of the male human cock.  The stories in the magazine were raunchy and explicit and that's the way the readers seemed to like it. 
Handjobs was first published in April,1991. The publishers only printed twelve copies of that first issue and took them to A Different Light Bookstore in San Francisco.  They quickly became very popular.  Every month since then, an issue was published (283 issues in all).  Sadly, the Internet took its toll with bookstores closing and the number of subscribers to a paper rag declining.   Attempts to transfer its success over to an online version were less-than-ideal, which is not unusual for printed magazine publishers.  The October 2014 issue was the last issue of Handjobs published.  Second market sales continue to be strong..ironically on the Internet.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Artist Sketchbook: The Wrestlers' Hold


This illustration depicts three young athletes engaged in some rather interesting wrestling maneuvers.  Thanks to the box on the shelf (translated to read 'Bath Salt') we know that the artist was probably German and that the room was where athletes cleaned and prepared for competitions.  It was a state-of-the-art locker room for men and included tiled floors, scrub brushes and rubbing oils.  The modern pedestal "flush-down" toilet had first been demonstrated by Frederick Humpherson of the Beaufort Works 1885 and fits within the estimated time frame for when this art was likely created.  That device on the wall with the rubber flared end would have been an enema, and thanks to this illustration, it's very easy to imagine a young athlete laying on the bed while another assists with the enema insertion.  This was an era when enemas were believed to be therapeutic and rejuvenating.   Unfortunately, we don't get to see the face of the gent who is being held down, his curly head being locked firmly between the muscular thighs of that smiling man, who is also holding down his hands crossed behind his back.  The other gent seems to have decided that a different sort of anal insertion was called for.  Looking closer, it appears that the gent at the center of attention has spent some male seed on the pillow. 

There appears to be some disagreement if this is actually a 1900-era water color work of art or perhaps something created later intended to pay homage to an earlier time. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

America's First Gay President?


 COMMANDER IN CHIEF
Some homophobic people still refuse to acknowledge that America's had at least one gay president.  Even though the man in question is routinely regarded as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, they still don't want to elevate the standing of  a "homosexual" to that prestigous job title--it's just not as easy to try and brand all gays with molesting and bestiality arguments when there was a Commander in Chief who had a long-term love affair with another man.  And the president's likely lover? He once held the title of United States Vice President.


THEIR ARGUMENT
As the 15th President of the United States (from 1857 to 1861) James Buchanan was as they say, a 'life-long bachelor' and the only U.S. president to have never married.  But that doesn't mean he was gay, right?   Sure, there's also the fact that for 15 long years (prior to his presidency), Buchanan lived with his dearest friend, Alabama Senator William Rufus King.  So what if King never married in his lifetime, either.  But that doesn't make them gay.  Lots of men lived together back then, but they usually did so because of money--these were two wealthy gentleman.   And so what if they wrote many intimate letters to one another, personal enough in content that the president's nieces destroyed most of them upon the president's death?   All of that doesn't prove anything they argue--there is nothing in that record to confirm without a doubt his sexual preference. And this is true.

CONNECTING THE DOTS
Yet it's more than just these facts that's lead respected historians to believe he was gay.  It's looking at not just selected parts of his life, but putting everything together that forms a conclusion.  The argument made, that it's totally inappropriate to apply today's values and living standards to other eras, is absolutely correct--however even for the time peiord in which Mr. Buchanan lived, rumors were circulating about his sexuality.  In Professor Loewen's book, "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong," the scholar asserts that Buchanan's long-time living companion, King, was referred to as "Aunt Fancy" by the era's Beltway crowd.  Who were these beltway gossips and why would anyone believe them?  Oh, people like Andrew Jackson, who liked to refer to King as "Miss Nancy." There's also Aaron V. Brown ( Governor of Tennessee and Postmaster General in the Buchanan administration) who spoke of the two as "Buchanan and his wife."  The point is, Buchanan's sexual orientation was widely rumored  while he was still living, to the point that when people talked about "Mrs. Buchanan" they typically knew it meant Mr. King.

Yet despite this bitchy name calling, there were no Moral Majority or Bible thumping fundamentalists in politics strong enough to plague them or ruin their lives. The King-Buchanan liaison was generally accepted (and snickered at) as a political and personal fact of life.  Rightfully so, the nation was consumed with real issues like freedom and slavery.

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
But wait! There's still the argument that in 1819, James Buchanan almost married Ann Coleman. The couple had became engaged. Then, Coleman heard rumors about Buchanan (exactly what they were about has been disputed. Suggestions include his drinking, wanting to marry for money, and sexual dalliances).  She was embarrassed and hurt and broke off the engagement.  She then died of an opium overdose. Buchanan was not allowed to attend her funeral.  While some use this intended marriage as proof that he was heterosexual, VGMH knows marriages of convenience happen all the time, and especially happen a lot in political careers.

IN HIS OWN WORDS
Mr. Buchanan wrote in 1844, after his companion Mr. King left for France: "I am now solitary and alone, having no companion in the house with me.  I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them.  I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection."

By 1852 King was elected Vice President of the United States with Franklin Pierce in 1852 and took the oath of office on March 24, 1853. Shortly afterward, King returned to his Chestnut Hill plantation and died within 2 days.  This adds yet another dimension to history--a gay Vice President.  Eventually abandoned by his party, Pierce was not renominated to run in the 1856 presidential election and was replaced by James Buchanan as the Democratic candidate.


HISTORY HAS NOT BEEN KIND
In his December 1860 message to Congress (just 3 months before Lincoln was inaugurated as the new President), President Buchanan declared that the southern states had no right to leave the union, but that the federal government had no right to stop them. By the time he left office 3 months later, 7 states had already left the Union, and the Confederates had looted the arsenals in the South. Buchanan did not exercise his powers as Commander In Chief.  After he left the White House, Buchanan explained that he did not stop secession out of fear that hostile African Americans would overrun the North.  On Buchanan's final day as president, March 4, 1861, he remarked to the incoming Lincoln, "If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man."


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Beastly Desires Within Men

OLAF ODEGAARD:
February 1996
(from Beasts and Beauties: The Erotic Art of Olaf )


"I was born a man with two talents, one for the theatre and one for art. I pursued both of these arts from the time I was very young. I started drawing in kindergarten. I was working with oils by the time I was in fifth grade and had my first exhibition at that time.


When I reached puberty I became entranced by what was happening to me sexually and I drew hundreds of drawings of my erect cock. While I had been drawing men since I was five, I now began to draw them with less clothes and more visible genitals.

 
In the seventies, I saw the Satyr as the perfect symbol of gay men in that period. In Greek myth, satyrs bring joy and love into the lives of men.

I praise the beauty of masculine men in my art, of their grace, of the passion of their sexuality. Of the peaks and valleys of their fleshscape. Of their raw power. Of their gentle kindness. Of love between men. Of their hardness of body, the wealth of hair on their chest and bodies, of their sense of companionship."

 





Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lust and Love: The Art of Roger Payne




We celebrating Valentines Day with one of our favorite artists, Roger Payne.  Roger's artwork often crosses an unspoken bridge and captures two conflicting forces which are constantly at odds with modern men living in a restrictive world: Primal instincts pitted against social, financial and gender/sexual classes.
 
In the fantastic worlds created by Roger, no matter his social standing, uniform that his job requires him to wear, wealth or age, men are internally heart-throbbing, sweating primal beasts looking for sexual enjoyment and fulfillment.  And man's instinctive lust and desires will usually manifest themselves when given an opportunity to do so.  Or to put it another way, never underestimate the power and majesty of a rock-hard cock to level all social trappings and labels to zero.


Roger Payne's art of men engaging in intimate pleasures has made him very famous, although most fans don't know much about the man behind the images. It's reported that Roger's adult gay sketches started as a hobby in the 1970's when he was a teenager. His fantasies were sparked by the men he would see living and working all around him, and he was able to translate "everyday guys" into visions of what might happen in private, given the right opportunities. He studied at London’s St. Martin’s School of Modern Art.  For a while, Roger made a living by making historic illustrations for children’s books. Later, he was invited to work for publications like Advocate Men and Handjobs.  When the Internet came into millions of homes, his works exploded everywhere. There have been at least three collections of his art, including 2007's ROGER which have become treasured by his admirers.


Roger's work is defined by very realistic-drawn guys often in their work clothes or situations and conveys their most intimate emotions as they climax. As already noted, books have been printed that are collections of Roger's works.  The first collection included drawings which were complemented with stories about horny younger men who willingly offered themselves to the lusts of somewhat older, often very hairy and well-endowed studs.  A great deal of thought goes into his artwork.  Just look at the facial expressions of his men coupling in order to appreciate how each is experiencing the sex from their own perspective.

While it's sold out in many places, “Men by Roger" may still available in some book stores and Internet sites.  It's been reported that 3,000 copies were published.  There are no stories related to the images in this book; just ninety drawings, five of which in full color. The pages of this book are packed with hairy soldiers, sailors, construction workers, police officers, and cowboys.